THE GONDOLA SCAM by Jonathan Gash


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Even more farfetched than previous outings for antique-dealer/con-man Lovejoy, this raggedly plotted caper does offer lots of Venice sightseeing--some of it standard, some of it offbeat. The action, however, starts in Lovejoy's small-town-England neighborhood: first two Lovejoy colleagues are casually murdered while in possession of a faked Venetian painting; then Lovejoy himself is summoned to the estate of a dotty old collector who claims to be in the midst of rescuing all of sinking Venice's art treasures (substituting the Real McCoys with fakes). So, without much credible motivation, Lovejoy impetuously takes off for Venice--sure that the old collector's shady daughter (a palazzo resident there) is connected to those murders and generally up to no good. The would-be shamus goes undercover, working as a tourguide, stealing a gondola. (He's fluent in Italian, remember.) He falls for new colleague Cosima--who gets near-fatally shot by the bad guys. But finally, after chases and bedroom conquests galore, Lovejoy talks his way into the art-scare operation, a ""factory of forgers and fakers,"" and unmasks some unsurprising double-crosses within the crooks' circle. Less amusing or informative than some other Lovejoys--certainly less credible--but, with engaging glimpses of Venice's non-tourist byways (including ugly Mestre on the mainland), this lively, exotic folderol won't disappoint the regular Gash readership.

Pub Date: March 13th, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's